Forests have been a long-standing transversal research topic at the French Institute of Pondicherry that has enjoyed renewed attention in the past few years. Taking advantage of its location, the Institute has produced a rich literature on the forest ecology of the Western Ghats and the meaning and use of these forests by the people.
Major projects include:
- Forest maps of India and South India
- Documentation of plant diversity across spatiotemporal scales of the biodiversity hotspots
- Dynamics of forest diversity(Uppangala Permanent Sampling Plot)
- Identification of conservation priorities of the region
- Developing biodiversity resources portal in collaboration with experts and through citizen science
- Knowledge-based tools for species identification
- Publications on the ecological history of the Western Ghats and the overall theme of “Man and forests in South India”
While this work is still continued, research has recently expanded both in terms of fieldwork and in terms of methods. New projects have been developed in other biodiversity-rich regions of India, notably in the Himalayas and the North-East. In terms of methods, the initial human ecology approach has been opened to the burgeoning field of political ecology, to explore the complexities surrounding nature conservation and development and thereby contributing to better forest governance.